ONLINE PROCEEDINGS

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, Chuck’s neutral practice has transformed to being entirely online using Zoom.  He has held more than 75 Mediations and 15 arbitration proceedings virtually.  Chuck schedules the Zoom meetings directly and navigates the technology himself, including moving himself and participants between breakout rooms just as if the proceeding were in person.  Of course, Chuck will continue to be available for in person proceedings when it is safe to resume doing so.

The key to successful online proceedings is to ensure the parties understand the process and the communication is clear on the expectations and the technology.  Chuck has developed Online Mediation and Online Arbitration Guidelines. A key example of how to make a Mediation work more smoothly is to estimate carefully the time necessary and operate with courtesy – such as “knocking on the door” by using texting before the Mediator reenters the virtual “Breakout Room.”  Another example is to discuss in advance what will happen when there is a technology glitch.

MEDIATION

As with in person proceedings, virtual Mediations regularly last up to 12 hours, and the participants, many of whom have now mediated numerous online cases with Chuck and other Mediators, regularly say that there is no substantive difference in the process or the outcomes. That is, cases settle, which is particularly critical in these times when courts have been operating at less than full speed. Participants also appreciate the cost savings involved in the elimination of travel expenses and other inefficiencies in gathering the necessary lawyers, parties and insurance personnel.

For example, Chuck recently successfully mediated a wage-hour dispute that involved four cases pending in the federal courts in Texas, California, New York and Puerto Rico, and the counsel and parties participating in the Zoom Mediation were in five different states. Similarly, Chuck recently settled a nationwide class action with lawsuits in several states and counsel in numerous locations after three days of Zoom Mediation. In short online Mediation works.
STOHLER ADR: Virtual Mediation Guidelines 

ARBITRATION

As with Mediation, Chuck has conducted numerous contested arbitration hearings and proceedings, some with substantial expert testimony and complex issues. He has worked with several online providers of exhibit platforms and has handled cases with electronic discovery disputes where there have been thousands of pages of documents and transcript. He has developed an Order that is customized to each case that addresses what happens during a virtual hearing, including such points as the where the witness should be sitting and how the oath is tailored to the situation.

Zoom technology also works well for grievance arbitrations brought under collective bargaining contracts.